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Libraries switch back to pickup service during COVID-19 pause

Jackson County’s 15 library branches will temporarily halt in-person browsing during the state’s two-week “pause” intended to slow the recent spike in COVID-19 in nine Oregon counties.

Instead, the libraries will offer what officials are calling “enhanced front door service.”

The pause is scheduled to run Nov. 11-25. It affects capacity at restaurants and indoor recreation facilities and instructs businesses to let employees work from home as much as possible. State officials are also asking county residents to cap their social gatherings at six people.

For that two-week period, patrons can browse the library’s online catalog and reserve items, then pick them up outside the library building. Customers will present their ID or library card, and library employees will bring reserved items out to them.

The same process was used in the early days of the pandemic. Library officials always intended to make it something they could flexibly implement.

“As things changed in our community, we’d be able to move forward or back a stage,” said library Director Kari May.

Its return includes some new features. Patrons can now utilize an online request form, intended for people who seek materials on certain subjects or genres. After the form is filled out, a list of 10 available items fitting what they’re after is emailed to them, with links to the catalog where they can place a hold. Patrons can enter the library one at a time to speak to staff about book recommendations. Computers will also be available for sessions of up to 50 minutes, first-come, first-served.

Masks are required for anyone using the computers or other in-person services. Branch hours of operation will stay the same at all locations. Hours are available online at jcls.org.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.

A Medford library patron picks up books she reserved during the COVID-19 shutdown in this Mail Tribune and Ashland Tidings file photo. Jackson County Library Services will return to an online pickup system during the November pause.